All Things Gardening forum: Dutch bucket hydroponics, my experiment

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Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
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extranjera
Sep 16, 2013 3:53 PM CST
Tomatoes are difficult to grow here because of nematodes, high PH water, too much heat and humidity in the summer. I've been wanting to try hydroponics for awhile, I did try growing tomatoes in the filter of a fish pond but they didn't thrive. I've since discovered that I probably would have been successful with lettuce but tomatoes and other fruiting plants need a lot more nutrients than my Mollies and Guppies could provide.

I found this guy on youtube and I've now watched almost all of his videos. He's a hoot, with a strong southern accent and a down home attitude that is wonderful. In fact, I've played his videos for students learning English that were curious about southern accents.

Check out Dutch Bucket Hydroponics by Bobby http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXy32Dr4Z4A

I decided that this was the thing for me to try on my roof. I found a source for the hydroponic solution and rock wool to start the seeds. I also found a guy from Florida who had some tropical hybrid seeds and was willing to share. Collected paint buckets, cleaned them, drilled them and put in the pvc elbows. Bought some block and built a stand for the buckets from blocks and old wood. Oscar is putting together a trellis using the bamboo we cut down last week. It's all starting to come together.

Here are some pictures so far.

the roof set up. there will be a reservoir of solution that fits partly under the block and wood platform.
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elbow inside the bucket for the solution to return to the reservoir
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The outside opening, there are elbows that go here too and short lengths of pvc to the return pipe. Still to do is to cover the white buckets with something that will block the light. I'm afraid that painting them black will make the inside too hot so I've got some spray on glue and some aluminum foil and I'm going to try and cover them with that. I also need to cover the 2" pvc return pipe for the same reason although the water won't be in there long enough to get hot so I may just use spray paint.
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soaking the rock wool for the seeds, I bought some sterilizing formula because I feel like the nematodes are everywhere and I wanted to be sure I started with a clean slate.
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I need to get the seeds started. We are under the outer bands of hurricane Ingrid for the last few days so it has been cool and overcast. I was worried the seeds would not get enough light or heat. Today I went out and got a shop light and a couple of T8 florescent bulbs and we are installing it over a counter in the laundry room. I can adjust the height, the room is usually closed up and warm but it has a skylight that opens for ventilation and a ceiling fan. Whistling I'm turning the laundry room into a seed nursery.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
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jvdubb
Sep 17, 2013 7:30 AM CST
Wow, very cool. That is passion for growing tomatoes. I never really thought about tomatoes being difficult to grow in Mexico. But, duh, obviously it is a big country with plenty of different growing conditions.

Thanks for sharing!
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Sep 17, 2013 7:37 AM CST
Wow! I will be very interested to read about the progress.
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If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Pete
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8a)
pmenefee
Sep 18, 2013 2:06 PM CST
Jonna, I thought everyone talked like that!! East Texans are some of the worst/best at the southern accent, but of course we have our own style.
We taught English at a school in Spain, where the Spaniards were working on their conversational English. All we had to do was talk and listen all day in English. Anyway, the Spaniards said one of the hardest accents to pick up was the southern drawl.

I watched a couple of the videos and really looks like a great setup. Keep us posted.

Pete
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 18, 2013 3:05 PM CST
What mix or soil you use in your Dutch buckets? I watched several minutes of video but didn't get to that information.

Googling, all I found were pictures that looked like those expanded clay peanut-sized porous pebbles.
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
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extranjera
Sep 18, 2013 3:26 PM CST
I think the southern accent is difficult for non English speakers to understand. The accent in Mexico that is similar to the US southern accent is the Yucateco accent here where I live. It's tough to understand, they drawl, they drop letters and they change some letters to others. In Mexico, the accent is considered difficult -actually it is often laughed at - and the people are said to be slow because of the way they speak. It's a human trait to make jokes about "others" I think.

Rick, most recommendations are to use the expanded clay pebbles as a medium. Hydroton is one brand name. It's expensive even in the US and more so here. What I like about the guy in the video is he tries different stuff and tells you when the more expensive stuff isn't worth it. He uses perlite but he's growing in a greenhouse with no wind. He tried big rocks, little rocks and hydroton as well and his conclusion was that there was no difference from the different media. So, because I don't want perlite blowing around everywhere and because it is more expensive in bulk here than river rock, I'm going to use the small river stones. He talks about the media at about 9:29 on the above video.

I haven't gotten much farther. The seeds are planted and hopefully will germinate. The buckets are painted black, I decided it would be a plus to get more heat inside in the winter and if I decide to do this in the spring and summer I'll deal with it then. The trellis is completed for one section. I'm waiting for the seeds to sprout to do more, and for the weather to improve. We've been under the outer bands of hurricane Ingrid and now we have a new hurricane forming to the south of us and we are under its outer bands as well. So, not much sun, lots of rain and cool temps.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Horntoad
Sep 18, 2013 3:47 PM CST
The guy in the video is using perlite.
(cross posted)
wildflowersoftexas.com
texasnatureonline.com


[Last edited by Horntoad - Sep 18, 2013 3:48 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 18, 2013 5:22 PM CST
Thanks! Now I see them. "Rocks"!
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
extranjera
May 4, 2014 1:52 PM CST
Thought I'd give an update. I had lots of difficulties starting the seeds in the rock wool. I've never grown much from seed before and it is a learning curve. I finally got 3 plants large enough to move to the buckets and by that time it was January or February, not a great time to start tomatoes here. They are doing great so far, there are even tiny tomatoes on them.

I put up the sun sail this week because they were looking kind of stressed in our spring heat, it was over 100°f for about a week. It has cooled down this week and we had a heavy rain. I'm worried about the heavy rains of summer as well as the heat so I thought a bit of shade and rain protection was in order. We'll see.

The hydroponic part seems to be working well, I upped the frequency and duration of the pump during the hot spell so that they were getting the solution on their roots for an hour and a half and then off for a half hour all day. I may reduce the duration now that it is cooler and they have some light shade.


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I don't know why some of the leaves are curled. I have cut off some of the lower branches without blooms but I really don't know what I'm doing. I'm open to pruning suggestions and I am going to go and do some googling as well.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
May 4, 2014 2:36 PM CST
Congratulations on the tomatoes! Even if these stop right where they are, you have learned so much that can be applied for the next go-round. I am looking forward to more updates, Jonna. Thumbs up
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: JamesHST
United States
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jameshst44
Feb 19, 2016 3:09 AM CST
Thanks for the info
[Last edited by jameshst44 - Mar 4, 2016 4:20 AM (+)]
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